It’s pretty much a fact now that strength training will improve your running.
Yet, some debate remains. For example, should distance runners, who excel in endurance, lift heavy weights, thereby increasing power? Some sources say yes. Here’s one.
But, generally speaking, weight training is good for runners. Benefits include improved body composition (more muscle, less fat), reduced likelihood of injury (increased joint strength), and improved efficiency in using energy and oxygen (that is, you can decrease the amount of oxygen you need to run at a certain pace, allowing you to increase speed).
So what are some good, not-too-time-consuming strength training strategies for runners? Here are two. And equipment for both is quite economical.
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Kettlebell Strength Training for Runners
HealthStyles has a full selection of kettlebells. Check them out here.
Kettlebell workouts build strength and range of motion. Here are three key kettlebell exercises. Try completing 10 reps of each (or any given kettlebell exercise) with perfect form before increasing reps. Good form is king with kettlebells.
The swing is the most common kettlebell exercise. It’s a fantastic way to develop power and strength through the hips, particularly in the glutes and the hamstrings. Given the constant pounding your body endures with each footfall while running, a strong backside is important both for performance and injury prevention. The quick, explosive motion of the swing also adds a unique element to your lifting routine.
Form Tips. The vast majority of the power and motion should come from the hips, not from bending the knees. Keep a slight bend in the legs but focus on snapping the hips through to move the kettlebell. Also, don’t pull on the weight with your arms. Your elbows should remain locked out the entire time, with your upper body acting as a method to hold on to the swinging weight. Video link.
Kettlebell Push Press
Like the swing, the push press is designed to build power and explosiveness. This time, the focus is on the upper body. For all runners, the upper body is crucial for form and breathing – two key elements of performance. The push press builds core strength, since it only works one side at a time. It also develops explosive strength in the upper body, which is extremely important for finishing strong during the last quarter mile of a race.
Form Tips. The push press transfers power from the lower body to the upper body and builds coordination. Avoid using solely your upper half to power the weight up. After a slight bend in the hips and knees, explode up and drive the weight overhead for maximum benefit.
Kettlebell Floor To Shelf
There’s actually quite a bit of twisting in the running gait. As such, rotation or twisting motions are crucial for runners. The floor to shelf helps to build strength in the upper body while focusing on the midsection. The movement also requires “eccentric strength,” where the obliques must slow down the rotation at the top of the exercise to prevent over-rotation and injury. This eccentric strength helps to prevent excess movement during running, leaving you with a more efficient running form.
Form Tips. Although the focus of the exercise is on the core and the upper body, the lower body has an important role to play. As you twist toward one side, focus on pivoting the feet and the hips to complete the motion. This helps to emphasize the rotation as well as prevent injury at the ankles and knees. Video link.
Suspension “Body Weight” Strength Training for Running
For super-low-cost strength training, harness your own body weight for strength training using HealthStyles’ suspension training systems.
This routine is aimed at lower body and core strength for runners. Developing integrated lower and upper-body strength, especially through your core, will result in a more powerful and efficient stride. Though it may seem a little counter-intuitive, your upper body and core actually play a big part in generating power and maintaining stability while you run.
The routine consists of three TRX exercises for creating core strength, stability and mobility in runners. They are, in a recommended sequence:
TRX Bottom Up Squat: 5-10 reps
This move improves mobility in the hips and ankles while warming up the entire body for any training session. It also teaches how to engage your core and arms to improve your running posture.
TRX Hamstring Runner: 5 reps on each leg
The Hamstring Runner develops your posterior chain, hamstrings, lower back, and glutes to help correct imbalances not only from front to back, but also from side to side.
TRX Chest Press: 5-10 reps
TRX describes this exercise as a “moving plank instead of a chest and arm exercise.” This chest press develops integrated core strength and stability to improve your running posture and arm drive.